Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly expressed fears Sunday that the United Nations Security Council could take fresh action against Israel during a meeting on January 17, three days before US President Barack Obama is slated to leave office.
Netanyahu told his weekly cabinet meeting that Israel is “in the midst of an event that has still not ended,” according to a report by Israel’s Channel 10 news.
White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said last week that the US would veto any further UN action against Israel, after Washington abstained last month and allowed a resolution critical of West Bank settlement building to pass, drawing fury in Jerusalem at the US and the Security Council’s other 14 nations.
The Security Council meeting is scheduled to take place just two days after a planned peace conference in Paris on January 15, which Israel says may be used to advance further measures against it after the UN Security Council resolution and US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech last week in which he condemned Israel’s “pernicious policy of settlement construction that is making peace impossible” and laid out his six principles for peace talks.
Although it was not specified what kind of additional action Netanyahu believes could be taken against Israel at the Security Council, Channel 10 reported last week that the prime minister thinks the Middle East Quartet — the US, UN, Russia and EU — will coordinate positions at the Paris summit, and then return to the Security Council in the very last days of Obama’s presidency to cement these new parameters on Mideast peacemaking.
Last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that the recent Security Council resolution “paves the way for the international peace conference” in Paris, which the Palestinians hope will set a framework for future negotiations with Israel and will build on the Security Council resolution and Kerry’s speech.
Israel has refused to attend the January 15 gathering, with officials insisting that only bilateral negotiations will lead to a peace arrangement. The Palestinians support the French initiative, which will see representatives of some two dozen countries convening in a bid to jump-start peace efforts.
The Palestinians seek the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, for an independent state.
They say that Israeli communities in these areas (including Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem), now home to about 600,000 Israelis, are threatening their hopes for independence by taking in lands where they hope to establish their state.
The latest UN resolution, along with Kerry’s speech, essentially endorsed the Palestinian position by calling for the pre-1967 lines to serve as the reference point for a final border.
Netanyahu has condemned the moves as “skewed” and “shameful.” He says all disputes must be settled through direct negotiations without any preconditions, and that any international pressure undermines the negotiating process.
Agencies contributed to this report.